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Publisher's Summary

From New York Times best-selling author Richard Matheson, best known for his horror and fantasy writing, comes a highly praised Western that shows the master’s hand in this genre as well.

Back East, they told tall tales about Marshal Clay Halser, the fearless Civil War veteran who became known as the “Hero of the Plains” for his daring exploits in the Wild West. But the truth, as revealed in his private journals, is even more compelling.

A callow youth in search of excitement, Halser travels to the raucous cow towns of the frontier, where his steady nerve and ready trigger finger soon mark him as a gunfighter to be reckoned with. As both an outlaw and a lawman, he carves out a legendary career. But fame proves to be the one enemy he can never outdraw—and a curse that haunts him to the bitter end.

©1991 RXR, Inc. (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“The best novel I read last year.” (Stephen King)
“The author gives his story a credibility and honesty unusual in the genre.” ( Publishers Weekly)
“Breathtaking…first-rate…impossible to put down. Mr. Matheson has done something remarkable: with a single novel he has placed himself in the front rank of Western novelists.” (Richard S. Wheeler, author of Vengeance Valley)

What listeners say about Journal of the Gun Years

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A pleasant surprise

Wasn't expecting too much but there is a bit of a lack of decent western novels devoted entirely to gunfighters and gunfights. this one intentionally cuts out most of the details that don't add to the construction of a gunfighter character and is a really enjoyable read. the narrator has some great moments and some moments where he is hard to take but on the whole I would enthusiastically recommend the book for straight up old west gunfighter story seekers.

6 people found this helpful

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Disappointed

Story seem to be going well then all the sudden the profanity, blasphemous, and using God’s name in vain.

2 people found this helpful

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Hi

This book makes no sense. I tried.
Racist. Very racist. So very racist and sexist.

1 person found this helpful

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Narrator is ruining it

Why is the narrator reading the main character as if he either has a brain injury..... english is not his first language or both?

He reads other characters fine

I can’t focus on story

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An unflinching take on the cost of violence

Billy the Kid, Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp, and Buffalo Bill: This novel’s protagonist embodies each of these real life western legends and by combining these figures into the life of one man: gunman, peace officer (and sometimes killer), Clay Halser, we see how the violent events of his life and the fame that resulted can destroy a man in a manner far worse than a quick shootout. It’s an unblinking look at the cycle of violence and revenge that spirals Clay’s life ever downward into the pits of despair, aging him far beyond his years and leaving him alone and hopeless. Was not expecting such a sad story, yet I’m very glad I decided to give this a try. It’s one that will stay with me for a long time.

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painful

I usually enjoy westerns, but this one isn't good. The best thing about the final chapter is that I was looking forward to being done with it.

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Good story

Worth your time to listen to this story about a gun slinger. Well done representation of the story. You will enjoy if you like western stories.

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A fascinating story

Many of the parts of the story did actually happen to different old west gunfighters and the fame of being a fast hand killed more than one of them.

A worthwhile read that you won’t be disappointed by.

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Needs A New Performance Worthy Of A Great Writer

What is going on with the performance? After the first chapter the story is good, but it becomes unlistenable.The narrator takes on a weird robotic tone and an affected nasal deepness that quickly turns unbearably grating. I had to bail on this audiobook fast.

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  • TonyP
  • 09-29-21

A excellent book. Very well told.

Although Richard Matheson is more well known for his fantastical tales, such as The Shrinking Man or I am legend, this is realistic and down-to-earth an story of the old West. I very much enjoyed this book I would recommend it to anyone was interested in such stories.